IT didn’t look like Columbus North junior Cody Burton was going to win the battle in his team’s 6-5, eight-inning victory against visiting Bloomington North on Tuesday.
Burton was facing down Cougars’ ace Dylan Stutsman with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning with Brice McDaniel representing the winning run at third base.
Stutsman had struck out two of the three players he had faced.
Worse yet, the entire game had a strange feel to it.
It was the continuation of a game that was tied 5-5 after seven innings April 22 and couldn’t be finished due to darkness. On Tuesday, both teams hurried through warm-ups in the hope they could beat the rain, which already had begun falling by the first pitch.
After North pitcher Collin Lollar worked his way through a scoreless top of the eighth, the Bull Dogs got a break when Brice McDaniel beat out an infield hit and advanced to second when the shortstop’s throw sailed over his first baseman.
Stutsman, though, seemed to be in control. When he got two quick strikes on Burton with breaking pitches, the Cougars seemed to be ready to escape the inning.
Burton, though, battled back by allowing a fastball to sail past high before fighting off another fastball with a foul. Stutsman then threw a wild pitch that allowed McDaniel to advance to third.
Stutsman finally came with a fastball, and Burton was up to the task. He smacked a hard grounder past the shortstop into left field for the game-winning hit.
“I knew he wasn’t going to blow a fastball by me,” Burton said.
Ben McDaniel was pleased that his team got its act together after seeming a bit off before the restart of the Conference Indiana game.
“I was extremely worried pregame,” Ben McDaniel said. “We weren’t focused. But we regrouped before we took the field.”
Still, Bloomington North had the upper hand as the game restarted. After Lollar got the first man out, Zach Cleaver reached on a bloop single and Max Williams was hit by a pitch.
But with the go-ahead runner at second, Lollar struck out the next batter and induced a weak grounder to end the inning.
“I was nervous,” Ben McDaniel said. “But I know that Collin relishes those moments.”
North raised its record to 8-2-1 and 1-1 in conference. Bloomington North fell to 5-3 and 1-1.